Most of the taxes and duties at Athens were farmed by private persons, who
took on themselves the task of collecting, and made payments in respect
thereof to the state. They were called by the general name of τελῶναι,
while the farmers of any particular tax
were named after it ἐλλιμενισταί, εἰκοστῶναι,
or, as the farmers and collectors were often
the same persons, εἰκοστολόγοι,
&c. The tax or duty was let to the
highest bidder. Several persons (like a societas
of Roman publicani
joined in the speculation (Plut. Alc. 5
principal or chairman of the company, in whose name the bidding took place,
and who was responsible to the state, was called ἀρχώνης
(Andoc. de Myst.
§ 133). Of
course securities were required from the farmer or the company for the
payment of the dues (Dem. c. Timoc.
p. 745.144; Andoc. l.c.
). The office was frequently undertaken by
resident aliens, citizens disliking it on account of the vexatious
proceedings to which it led. The farmer had power to search for and seize
contraband or uncustomed goods (Demosth. Pantaen.
he watched the harbours, markets, and other places to prevent smuggling;
brought a (πάσις
] or other legal process against persons whom
he suspected of defrauding the revenue, or even arrested them and took them
before a magistrate. To enable him to do all this, he was exempted from
military service ([Dem.] c. Neaer.
p. 1353.27). The taxes or
duties were thus let out (τέλη ἐκδιδόναι
by the ten πωληταὶ
acting under the
authority of the senate [POLETAE
]. The payments (καταβολαὶ
Dem. c. Timoc.
p. 731.98), regulated by
the νόμοι τελωνικοί
(ib. p. 732), were
made at stated Prytaneiai in the senate-house ([Dem.] c.
l.c.). There was usually one payment made in advance
); the succeeding one or
ones were probably called προσκαταβλήματα.
(This, at any rate, is the account of Suidas; but it seems inconsistent with
Demosthenes' use of προσκαταβλήματα
731. Boeckh, edit. 3, accepts Suidas' account and supposes Demosthenes to be
speaking inexactly.) On any failure in payment the farmer became ἄτιμος
l.c.) if he
was a citizen, and might be imprisoned (Dem. c. Timoc.
745, 746). If the debt were not paid by the end of the ninth Prytaneia
(probably the ninth of the year, the last but one, not the ninth from
incurring the debt) it was doubled, and, if it were not then paid, the
debtor's property was forfeited to the state (Andoc. de Myst.
§ 73; Dem. c. Timoc.
p. 730). (See the speech of
Demosthenes against Timocrates, and Boeckh's
edit. 3, p. 406 ff.)